Gotham Gazette

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State Legislature

State Legislature

  • After Significant Help for State Senate Democrats in 2018, Cuomo Largely Absent from 2020 Races

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    Gov. Cuomo with now-State Senator Andrew Gounardes in Oct. 2018 (photo: Cuomo/Flickr)


    After flipping several State Senate seats in 2018 and taking control of the upper legislative chamber and therefore all of state government, Democrats sought to hold onto their wide majority this year even with a Republican president atop the ticket. They believed they might be able to win a supermajority in the chamber to match that of Democrats in the Assembly by picking up at least two additional Senate seats, if not more.

    But as Senate

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  • The State of Play in the State Senate as the 2020 Election Moves to Counting Absentee Ballots

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    The New York State Senate chambers (photo: NY Senate)


    Though hundreds of thousands of votes across New York are still to be counted and many races are not yet called, it appears certain that Democrats will retain the majority in the State Senate that they won two years ago, and by a fairly wide margin. But, Republicans seem poised to regain several seats in the chamber to narrow what has been an exceptionally wide 40-23 seat margin and keep Democrats from expanding it to ...

  • After Large Participation and Long Lines in 2020, What Changes Could Improve Early Voting in the Future?

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    A long early voting line (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    New York City's first early voting period in a presidential general election saw 1.1 million in-person votes cast, hours of waiting across the city, and the threat of a court challenge to expand voting options. Experts and administrators didn't know exactly what to expect because of the unprecedented confluence of the coronavirus pandemic, universal absentee voting, and Trump-era political zeal.

    The results point to a number of potential changes that could improve the option in the

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  • 9 Things to Watch in the 2020 General Election in New York

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    Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, left, & Rep. Max Rose face off in NY-11


    Voting in the 2020 general election is set to come to a conclusion on Tuesday, November 3, Election Day. The full, official results won't be known for weeks.

    The eyes of the world are on the presidential race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, and it's unclear when a winner may be declared.

    Though it's unlikely Trump can pull off an upset and beat Biden in New York, voters here have been going to the polls in large numbers, just

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  • De Blasio Reups 2016 Board of Elections Reform Plan in 2020

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    Mayor de Blasio after voting (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    In April 2016, just after party primary elections featuring a major error by the New York City Board of Elections, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he would push for legislation in Albany to professionalize the day-to-day operations of the Board, among other bills that could improve the city's perennially bungled election administration and create more access to the ballot box for New Yorkers. Over four years and several poorly-run elections later, de Blasio made a similar announcement

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  • Democrats Eye Supermajority, Republicans Look to Regain Seats: The 2020 New York State Senate Battle

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    Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (photo: NY Senate)


    Two years ago, Democrats won a majority in the New York State Senate for the first time in eight years, winning full control of the state Legislature and the governor’s office and allowing them to pursue a raft of progressive legislation that had stalled under Republican obstruction. As the New York GOP has continued to diminish since that election, including another wave of retirements among state senators, and as President Donald Trump remains unpopular in the state, Democrats now see an opportunity to

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  • Manhattan Assembly Member Tries to Hold Seat After Missing Democratic Ballot Line

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    Lou Puliafito & Rebecca Seawright


    Last time she faced a Republican challenger, in 2016, Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright won by a margin of nearly 50 points. Her Assembly district, which includes the Upper East Side, Yorkville, and Roosevelt Island, has a solid Republican presence but is generally considered a firmly Democratic stronghold. Yet due to a series of ballot controversies, Seawright’s reelection bid has been thrust into some uncertainty this year.

    The trouble started for the Assembly member this Spring, when her

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  • Max & Murphy Podcast: Phara Souffrant Forrest on Her Campaign for Assembly

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    Phara Souffrant Forrest (photo: Phara for Assembly)


    October 21, 2020 - Max & Murphy Podcast: Phara Souffrant Forrest on Her Campaign for Assembly

    Phara Souffrant Forrest, a candidate for State Assembly in Brooklyn, joined the show to discuss her Democratic primary win over incumbent Walter Mosley, her platform, why the general election is being contested, the rise of the Democratic Socialists of America in New York City, and more.

    Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter ...

  • A Change New York Must Make to Protect Safety Net Providers and Their Clients

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    Health care professionals (photo: John McCarten/NY City Council)


    Finalizing a budget can be chaotic in the best of times. This year, we hammered out the last details of the state’s $177 billion spending plan as the COVID-19 crisis was approaching its peak in New York State. 

    It was in this context that the Legislature agreed to a little-noticed recommendation from the Governor’s Medicaid Redesign Team II (MRT II) that strips a critical federal benefit

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  • Could a Tax on Stock Trading Help New York Fill Its Massive Budget Hole?

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    Gov. Cuomo at the New York Stock Exchange (photo: Darren McGee/Governor's Office)


    This story was published in partnership with New York Focus, an independent, investigative news publication covering New York state and city politics, as part of its launch.
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    As the pandemic roiled markets in the spring, New York recorded surging revenue from an obscure

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  • Sign By the Red X: New York Election Officials Unveil New Envelope to Ensure More Absentee Votes Get Counted

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    Part of the new absentee ballot envelope design


    The New York State Board of Elections has approved a new design for absentee ballot envelopes to be used statewide in the upcoming general election. The new layout, mandated by Governor Andrew Cuomo in an executive order, is intended to make it more obvious where a voter needs to provide a signature in order to have the ballot accepted by elections administrators under state law and avoid mass disqualification of absentee ballots as New York saw during the June primaries.

    The

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  • State Inaction Means New York City Won't Launch Online Voter Registration Before 2020 Deadline

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    Voter registration (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    A bill that would have made it possible for many thousands of New York City residents to register to vote online, which passed the State Senate but stalled in the Assembly earlier this year, is unlikely to pass before the general election registration deadline and would be too late to be implemented even if it did, officials say.

    The legislation, first introduced in the summer of 2019, would allow the New York City Campaign Finance Board to open the online voter registration portal it created

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  • Max & Murphy Podcast: Senator Gianaris on Next Steps in New York's Recovery

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    State Senator Michael Gianaris (photo: Senator Michael Gianaris' office)


    September 23, 2020 - Max & Murphy Podcast: Senator Gianaris on Next Steps in New York's Recovery

    State Senator Michael Gianaris of Queens joined the show to discuss next steps in reopening the New York economy, how the State Senate Democratic majority is thinking about addressing the state and city fiscal crises, and more.

    Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter ...

  • New York Has An Incarceration Problem. Letting People Go Is The Answer

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    Governor Cuomo at a correctional facility (photo: governor's office)


    The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Daniel Prude, and scores of Black Americans have once again put a spotlight on the brutality of policing in this country. But policing is only one part of a criminal legal system that was founded on dehumanizing and oppressing Black people. There are countless Black lives, including those of Kalief Browder, Layleen Polanco, Benjamin Smalls, and Lulu Benson-Seay, that have been taken away in jails, prisons, and detention centers across New York. Now is the time to

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  • 'This is Not a New Conversation': Southeast Brooklyn Leaders Discuss Causes and Casualties of Rising Gun Violence

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    State Senator Roxanne Persaud (photo: @SenatorPersaud)


    Coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic devastation, crime, particularly gun violence, has increased across New York City, a trend that began even before the coronavirus outbreak but has worsened since. The spike in shootings and murders has been particularly large in sections of Brooklyn. The 19th State Senate District, covering southeastern parts of the borough, including Canarsie, East New York, Brownsville, and

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  • As General Election Approaches, Mixed Results for Efforts to Ensure More Votes Get Counted

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    State Senators & election officials (photo: Senator Gianaris' office)


    After the June primaries, when tens of thousands of absentee ballots were rejected on technical grounds or never cast because they were mailed to voters late or not at all, state lawmakers passed a series of measures aimed at correcting some of those mishaps. But several other bills introduced by legislators and pushed by voting rights advocates that could prevent thousands of ballots from being thrown out are still on the table as the clock ticks toward the

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  • Despite Requests, No Sign of De Blasio Plan for Managing Billions in City Borrowing He's Seeking

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    Mayor de Blasio (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)


    Mayor Bill de Blasio continues to insist that New York City needs authorization from the state to borrow billions of dollars in operating funds to balance its budget, at least in the absence of federal aid to cover some of the massive loss in revenue from the pandemic fallout. The drastically-slashed new city budget for this fiscal year passed July 1 included $1 billion in undefined labor savings, which de Blasio said could be covered by federal aid or borrowing, or, if neither of those come through,

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  • ‘The Electorate Has a Bias for Youth and Energy’: Younger Candidates Take New York Politics by Storm

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    Queens Assembly candidate Khaleel Anderson (photo: @KhaleelAnderson)


    A younger generation of Democratic political candidates — which has grown up amid the Great Recession, growing inequality, rising costs of higher education and massive student loan debt, the ticking time-bomb that is climate change, and other crises including, now, the coronavirus pandemic and its fallout — has been offering ambitious policy goals and great urgency around achieving them, resonating with voters and finding success in their runs for office.

    In recent election cycles, New York

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  • Where De Blasio's Push to Borrow Billions Stands

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    The Financial Control Board meets (photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayor's Office)


    Mayor Bill de Blasio has until the end of September to present a state fiscal oversight body with a plan to find $1 billion in savings that will help balance the city budget for the current fiscal year. In lieu of a federal aid package to help replace lost tax revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic, the mayor and labor union leaders are pushing the Legislature and Governor Cuomo to allow the city to borrow billions of dollars to cover operating expenses, a proposal that many city and state

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  • A Redistricting Power Grab

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    Inside the State Senate chamber (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)


    The New York State Senate and Assembly, both now in Democratic hands, last month gave first passage to several changes to an earlier constitutional amendment, adopted in 2014, creating a so-called Independent Redistricting Commission to redraw district lines every ten years for those two houses and the state’s Congressional districts. If passed by the Legislature again next year, and then approved by the voters, these amendments to that

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  • $40 Billion in Unemployment Paid to 3.3 Million New Yorkers as Pandemic Devastates New York Workforce

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    New. Yorkers seeking help (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayor's Office)


    As a new report indicates unemployment in New York City may be as high as 33%, the state’s labor commissioner testified at a Thursday legislative hearing that since early March, the New York Department of Labor (DOL) has paid almost $40 billion in unemployment benefits to more than 3.3 million New Yorkers, compared to $2.1 billion in all of 2019.

    The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and its fallout on the state’s workforce was the subject of an oversight hearing held by both houses of the State Legislature

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  • Max & Murphy Podcast: Democratic Socialists Ascendant, with Senator Julia Salazar & Jabari Brisport

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    The 5 NYC-DSA-backed candidates for State Legislature, including guests Brisport (center) & Salazar (right)


    August 12, 2020 - Max & Murphy Podcast: Democratic Socialists Ascendant, with Senator Julia Salazar & Jabari Brisport

    State Senator Julia Salazar & likely State Senator Jabari Brisport, both Brooklyn Democrats backed by the New York City-Democratic Socialists of America, joined the show to discuss their ideas for helping New York recover from the many coronavirus-related crises, whether the

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  • New York Elections Administrators Lay Out Immense Challenges, Uncertainty Ahead of Fast-Approaching General Election

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    State Senator Myrie in the Senate chamber (photo: State Senate)


    After June saw drastic shifts in how voting in New York is conducted, elections administrators, state legislators, and watchdogs have a long list of changes they want to see enacted before the general election this fall. But above all they want clarity from Governor Andrew Cuomo.

    Many of the key players in New York City and State elections testified Tuesday at an oversight hearing held by both houses of the Democrat-controlled Legislature examining the June primary, its successes and

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  • As New York Looks for Smoother General Election, Long List of Voting Reform Bills Awaits Governor’s Signature or Legislative Action

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    Inspecting voting equipment (photo: Senator Michael Gianaris)


    The June 2020 primaries in New York were an unusually thick morass of bureaucratic challenges as the city and state election systems shifted to a mostly-mail-in format amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

    In New York City more than 80,000 mail-in ballots were disqualified on technical grounds -- a full fifth of the 400,000-plus ballots cast that way and a tenth of the total. Tens of thousands of ballots were either sent out late by the New York City Board of Elections or never delivered to voters who

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  • 'A Very Pathetic Response': Charles and Inez Barron on Protest, Police Reform and Radical, Black-Led Politics

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    Charles, left, & Inez Barron, right, at a ceremony with the Mayor & others (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    Anything short of a revolution won’t satisfy Charles and Inez Barron, the married Brooklynites who hold seats in the State Assembly and City Council, respectively, and the police reforms and city budget passed in the wake of recent widespread Black Lives Matter protests serve merely as a distraction to their radical idea of Black-led politics. 

    Assemblymember Charles Barron and City Council Member Inez Barron, both Democrats, have a

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